Iceland Gull at King’s Lynn – getting the birding week off to a good start
I’ve only been Norfolk Year Listing since we moved over here permanently a couple of years ago. Last year I set the ‘bench-mark’ of 225 and I was hoping, with a bit more effort this year, to do better. With only a couple of weeks left of 2015 I started the week off on 245, with an ambition to reach 250 before Christmas. On Tuesday we did the long trek out to Snittisham RSPB to look for the Pallid Harrier. It’d been seen earlier that morning but had been missing for an hour or so when we got there. Almost immediately, as we climbed the bank, we saw a distant ‘ring-tail’ across the fields. Although it never came close we did get enough on it to clinch the identification. Later that day we went to Titchwell in the hope of some much-needed sea birds. The sea was a long way out and there were very few birds on view but we did find a few Goldeneye, Great-crested Grebe, three Scoter which turned out to be Velvet, several Red-breasted Merganser and, just as we were leaving, two fabulous male Long-tailed Duck, close inshore . It was Wednesday morning and I was leading the NENBC Felbrigg mid-week walk when the news came through of a Grey Phalarope at Cley – a hastily concluded walk and we were off in pursuit. We parked at Walsey Hills and headed down East Bank, only to be greeted by the news that it had been flushed seconds earlier by a Peregrine! I eventually relocated it on Pope’s pool – 248, just two to go. We did go over to Sea Palling to have a look at the now ‘resident’ Cattle Egret – my guess is that it’s the same bird as the one we found a couple of weeks ago at Aylmerton. This morning, whilst waiting for Jane to finish up at the hairdressers, I popped along to Weybourne in the hope of finding Great Northern Diver on the sea. No luck but I did see the mixed finch flock as I drove down Beach Lane. I stopped off on my way back and was delighted to find at least 80 Lesser Redpoll and a Brambling amongst the commoner stuff. More careful scrutiny of the flock produce a couple of Mealy Redpoll, leaving me with just one for my target 250. There’d been a brief sighting yesterday of an unseasonaly late Red-rumped Swallow at Cley, fortunately it reappeared today and we eventually ran it to ground at Blakeney, hawking over the fresh marsh – bingo! I realise that 250 is a relatively modest achievement for possibly the UK’s premier birding county but it’s raised the bar for me and will provide a suitable challenge for years to come. As always, with any bird list, there are a few embarrassing omissions including Turtle Dove, Arctic Tern and Corn Bunting – oh well, there’s always next year.
The ‘resident’ Cattle Egret at Sea Palling – possibly the same bird that was at Aylmerton
Brambling and Lesser Redpoll in the mixed finch flock at Weybourne
Mealy Redpoll amongst c 80 Lesser Redpoll
and Red-rumped Swallow brings up the 250!